When the first song on Nerve Endings, the debut full-length record from Belgium's Mind Rays, kicks off, a listener could be forgiven for thinking that he or she was playing a Nuggets compilation instead of a new release on the excellent PNKSLM label. The song, like so many here, positively roars with promise.
If Mind Rays are beholden to the past, it's the past of The Scientists, The Birthday Party, The Saints, and The MC5. The superb "Follow Suit" rides a near-surf riff into your ears, while the infectious "Radiate" marries a shouty bit of punk business with a hook that's pure mid-Sixties garage rock. This band is most likely a powerhouse live and, luckily, a listener to the vinyl gets a sense of that too. There's something gloriously alive about the tracks on Mind Rays and stuff like "Trespass" seems barely contained. If the brief nods in the direction of early Fall singles found on "Dulling Senses" hint at some post-punk sense of control for this act, the next song, the raging "Demuie", takes things back into the realm of early Nick Cave or Gun Club sides. At their best, like on the peppy "Sunbreak", Mind Rays find a way to marry about a dozen styles into one churning racket.
Unhinged in the very best way, the tunes of Mind Rays inject a healthy dose of genuine chaos into an indie scene that's increasingly gone soft. A worthy addition to the already tremendous PNKSLM roster, Nerve Endings by Mind Rays is one of the highlights of this spring for me. Boisterous, loud, rude, and radical, it is pure rock-and-roll fire, folks. Buy it now and play it at a dangerously loud volume.
[Photo: Uncredited promo photo]